In August 2010, 40 of America’s wealthiest individuals and couples joined together in a commitment to give more than half of their wealth away. Created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the Giving Pledge came to life following a series of conversations with philanthropists around the world about how they could collectively set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy.
“This is about building on a wonderful tradition of philanthropy that will ultimately help the world become a much better place.” – Bill Gates
The Giving Pledge is a simple concept: an open invitation for billionaires, or those who would be if not for their giving, to publicly dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. And it is inspired by the example set by millions of people at all income levels who give generously–and often at great personal sacrifice–to make the world better. Envisioned as a multi-generational effort, the Giving Pledge aims over time to help shift the social norms of philanthropy toward giving more, giving sooner, and giving smarter.
Those who join the Giving Pledge often write a letter explaining their decision to engage deeply and publicly in philanthropy, as well as describing the philanthropic causes to which they are devoted. Signatories give to a diverse range of issues including poverty alleviation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girls’ empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform, and environmental sustainability.
While originally focused on the United States, the Giving Pledge quickly saw interest from philanthropists around the world. In February 2013, the pledge went global with the addition of signatories from Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Today, the pledge includes 190 of the world’s wealthiest individuals, couples, and families, ranging in age from their 30s to their 90s. Globally, they represent 22 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland and Taiwan), Cyprus, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Monaco, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Giving Pledge also provides a forum for some of the world’s most engaged philanthropists to discuss challenges, successes and failures, and how to be smarter about giving. People who have joined the pledge are united by a shared commitment to learning and giving, and they have opportunities to gather throughout the year to learn from experts about how best to leverage their philanthropy to address some of the world’s biggest challenges.